Shortly after Google launched Android back in October 2008 with the G1, new versions of the platform were released, followed by custom skins and interfaces. This led to strong criticism against platform fragmentation, and it has haunted Google and and its mobile OS ever since. However, when Android 3.0 Honeycomb was released, the search giant also released “Fragments API,” a tool for developers to scale applications across different screen sizes and resolutions with ease.
It certainly helped ease fears of continued fragmentation in the Android tablet space, but did nothing to quell the fire still burning in the smartphone arena. So, Google decided to enhance the API by including the ability to scale apps easily across all versions, 1.6 and later. That means developers should have an easier time getting their applications to work on year-old, low-resolution devices as well as today’s 4-inch qHD smartphones, like the Motorola Atrix 4G.
However, as Dianne noted, this new API, which is part of Honeycomb, does not help developers whose applications target earlier versions of Android.
Today we’ve released a static library that exposes the same Fragments API (as well as the new LoaderManager and a few other classes) so that applications compatible with Android 1.6 or later can use fragments to create tablet-compatible user interfaces.
This library is available through the SDK Updater; it’s called “Android Compatibility package”.
Google took long enough, but better late than never, we say. The flood of Android devices is great for the platform, but the varying screen sizes, resolutions and software versions just gave developers a headache. With the enhanced Fragments API, hopefully the issue of fragmentation will no longer be a deciding factor when consumers make a decision to purchase. Hopefully within a year or two, fragmentation will no longer be an issue at all with the rapidly expanding platform.
[Via: Android Developers Blog]